Thursday, April 24, 2014

Levi Gonzalez opens "The Craft of The Father" at The Chocolate Factory

Levi Gonzalez and Eleanor Smith in
The Craft of The Father
at The Chocolate Factory
(photo by Brian Rogers)

Levi Gonzalez's The Craft of The Father--his first evening-length dance since 2007's Clusterfuck--plays out before a small audience in a single row of chairs lining one wall at The Chocolate Factory. That familiar performance space will seem smaller and closer than ever when dancing gets going in earnest. Before that, though, it becomes a night-cloaked swamp filled with sounds--minute creaks of metal chairs; a neighbor's breathing; blurts and and moans and shrieks from three dancers tucked away in all-consuming darkness--for what stretches on for an unexpected amount of time. Space seems to stretch on, too, pulling you into a simultaneously close and vast place where the human body speaks its own language, free of rational identification. Ultimately, you don't know who's who or what's what, but you might come to feel that you're an inseparable part of the whole and relax into it.

So, now that you're in, what happens to you?

Mellow light comes, revealing agitated movers. Kayvon Pourazar's hands work so frantically around his jaw and temples that he seems driven to pull his own head off. Gonzalez pants from the exertion of wide-legged twirls. Eleanor Smith, twirling too, adds a rotation of her head, churning being a common thread as well as the sometimes awkward shifting of weight--both of the men have earthy physiques--or suspending weight and stretching movement in time. Incessant, the trio is dizzying to watch, and when these dancers separate across the room's length, you must swing your head to track the imagery and activities of one or another.

But are you truly in or are you out?

A meta moment, in which the trio huddles to discuss the dance and debrief, feels both welcoming and not. You hear their friendly conversation, but they're turned inward towards one another and away from their viewers. But you do hear them, and sometimes that makes you giggle. You feel kind of an insider and kind of not.

It's like that. The dancers entangle themselves in a fleshy ball, slipping around one another quietly, easygoing, then not so easygoing and not so quiet.

Things get a little strange around a Kate Bush song, "This Woman's Work," source of Gonzalez's title. (Please try this gorgeous performance by Maxwell.) I have no idea. Just that, maybe, anything alive--anything given life in this material world, a child, a work of art--has its own logic, illogic, direction, misdirection, welcome and refusal, presence and impermanence.

(photo by Brian Rogers)
With lighting by Natalie Robin and sound collected, assembled and performed by Tatyana Tenenbaum

The Craft of The Father continues through Saturday with performances at 8pm. For information and tickets, click here.

The Chocolate Factory
5-49 49th Avenue, Long Island City, Queens

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